In a surprise move that has sent waves through the NRL, code hopping fullback Jarryd Hayne has inked a two year deal with the resurgent Gold Coast Titans, and could feature as soon as this Sunday.
Hayne signed a deal with the Titans this morning after it became clear that Hayne’s former NRL employers, the Parramatta Eels weren’t going to put an offer on the table. The signing marks the biggest coup for the Gold Coast Titans in their history, and the biggest coup for rugby league on the Gold Coast since Wally Lewis signed with the Gold Coast Seagulls in 1991.
Hayne will earn up to $1.2 million a season and will be the highest paid player in the NRL.
His signing continues the growth of talent that the Gold Coast side have accrued having already lured youngster Ash Taylor from the Broncos in the offseason and recently secured the services of barnstorming centre Konrad Hurrell in a mid season switch.
It will also continue to bring fans through the gate and elevate the Titans’ current 2016 average attendance of 12, 227.
Hayne will link up with his Gold Coast team mates as early as tomorrow, and there is a distinct possibility that he could take the field for the Titans match this Sunday against the New Zealand Warriors.
Speaking about the deal in a press conference today, Hayne said he was excited about the opportunity with the Gold Coast but was saddened that he wouldn’t be able to play for Parramatta “Over the last few weeks I have waited for an offer from the Eels but unfortunately due to instability with the Board, no formal offer has been put on the table.
“This has been a difficult decision for me and I’m as devastated as the fans are that I won’t be pulling on the blue and gold jersey this year. I now have a new challenge ahead of me and am excited about getting back on the field and playing some footy.”
The move has been met with backlash from Parramatta supporters who believe Hayne is going back on his word after publicly stating in 2014 that if he returned to the NRL it would be with the Parramatta Eels. Eels officials were adamant that they have tabled an attractive offer to the former San Francisco 49ers running back but couldn’t compete with the other parties.
If Hayne does play on Sunday afternoon, he is expected to start from the bench and will spend the majority of his time in the halves as a way to get used to the speed of the game having not played a premiership match since 2014.